CONCORD (KPIX) — Housing advocates in Contra Costa County are warning that property owners are using loopholes in the state’s eviction moratorium to force renters from their homes.

“It’s a myth that there’s full protection and that there aren’t evictions happening,” says Kristi Laughlin who works for the non-profit Pathways to Housing.

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The organization staged a march and rally in support of Manuel Caballero and his family who were moving out of their Concord apartment Friday evening.

“It’s very hard. My kids yesterday they were crying because we are moving. They said where’s my clothes? Where’s my stuff?” says Caballero who worked as a wedding and event photographer until the pandemic.

Caballero says when his photography business dried up he fell behind on his rent in August of last year. He and his wife have four children between the ages of 12 and four-months-old.

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The state’s eviction moratorium should have protected him from being forced out of his apartment based on non-payment of rent. State lawmakers designed the eviction moratorium to shield renters from the financial fallout of the pandemic.

However, Caballero says the owners of his apartment notified him they were removing the property from the rental market which essentially deprived him of the protections of the state moratorium.

An attorney representing the property owners tells KPIX 5 his clients negotiated a settlement in which Caballero and his family agreed to leave the apartment by April 30. The attorney says his clients are small mom-and-pop property owners and that Caballero’s inability to pay his rent endanger their ability to pay their mortgage.

Caballero says he has not found a new apartment for his family. Housing advocates have raised money to enable them to stay temporarily in a hotel room.

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“They grew up there. My kids were there for ten years,” Caballero said.